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WJBD - Health & Fitness News - Miami Face-Chewing Victim Has 'Adjusted Well,' Say Doctors

Miami Face-Chewing Victim Has 'Adjusted Well,' Say Doctors

Ronald Poppo, before the attack. Miami Beach Police Department via Getty Images(CUTLER BAY, Fla.) -- Nearly one year after Miami face-chewing victim Ronald Poppo endured severe injuries in a gruesome cannibal-like attack, he thanked his supporters in a new video.

Wearing a Miami Heat hat and a wide grin, Poppo sat and strummed an acoustic guitar on a hospital bed at Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Center, a long-term care facility in Culter Bay, Fla., in a video released by Jackson Health System.

"People in my predicament need to be helped out," he said. "I thank the outpouring of people in the community. I'll always be grateful for that."

 

Poppo had more than 75 percent of his face chewed off, including his nose, mouth and eyes, after Rudy Eugene attacked him in May 2012. Poppo suffered nearly 18 minutes before police shot and killed Eugene to stop the assault.

Poppo was rendered blind from the attack, and he continues to work with an occupational therapist at Jackson Memorial, who taught him how to dress himself, feed himself, shower and shave, according to a news release. He has gained more than 50 pounds in recovery.

Dr. Wrood Kassira, a plastic surgeon at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital who treated Poppo, told ABC News that since the series of facial surgeries, Poppo has "adjusted quite well."

"In terms of reconstruction, he's been a trooper," said Kassira. "His main issue is blindness, having to adapt to his surroundings without being able to see."

Kassira said that while she had treated many patients who had endured trauma similar to Poppo's, this was her first time encountering a patient who had been the victim of such a grizzly assault.

University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital plastic surgeon Dr. Urmen Desai, who also treated Poppo, said that Poppo was not interested in pursuing further facial reconstruction, nor does he want to wear specially made prostheses to cover his nose and eyes.

"He's a very simple guy. These things aren't important to him," Desai said. "He doesn't care how he looks, and he doesn't care what people think about him."

Desai said the doctors who treated Poppo initially grappled with his decision to not pursue more surgeries.

"We may be used to seeing people with a missing arm or leg as we walk down the street. But if you ever see anyone with eyeballs missing, that's not as socially accepted in our society," he said. "It's something that was hard for us to let go of and have him go on his way and live the rest of his life [that way]."

"It took us a while to let go of that and realize it's not about what we want, it's about what he wants," Desai said.

Poppo remains at Jackson Memorial Perdue Medical Center, and still sees doctors for his facial injuries. Miami Lighthouse for the Blind also is providing services to help him regain his independent living skills, the hospital said in a statement.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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